A new Education Funding Agency (EFA) contractors' framework was launched in November 2013. Whilst this can be used mainly to design and build school projects valued between £20m and £60m, it can also be used for other value schemes. The framework is divided into two lots covering the north of England and the south of England. The framework has a value of up to £4bn and is due to expire in November 2017.
The new framework replaces the contractors' framework that was launched in November 2009 which included a panel of 12 contractors for each of the two regions. There are now ten contractors on the new framework:
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The EFA is inviting feedback on how the above contractors operate. The EFA has stressed that the contractors' places on the framework is merit based.
The EFA is also to start a new regional framework for small to medium projects with a value of between £3m to £7m. The regional framework will start from July 2014 and run for four years. Its emphasis will be on refurbishments, remodelling and extensions and will cover six regions: London and the South East, South West, West Midlands, East of England, North East and the North West. The EFA believes that this framework will be most suitable for free schools and smaller schools. It is not intended to replace SCAPE and it will only be an optional framework. The EFA is keen to have smaller contractors on this framework and it has initiated a lower turnover qualification threshold.
The Department for Education will provide the Academies Capital Maintenance Fund which is aimed at schools in the worst condition. The Fund, which will cover the 2014 to 2015 financial year, is not aimed at general maintenance. The Fund is currently three times oversubscribed although there are a lot of unrealistic general maintenance requests. The Fund is reinforcing its condition-based allocation criteria. The deadline for the submission of applications will be the end of January 2014 and it is expected that successful projects will be announced in April 2014.